This weekend Michelle, Gigi, and I went camping, just a small campsite close to home with a lake. We have one of those tiny pop-up campers, cooked over the fire, and just enjoyed the simplicity of it all. Across from our campsite sat another family with a few kids of their own and they quickly made friends with our daughter, which was a relief because it allowed us to relax a little more than we expected. One day Gigi found these two sticks in the woods and realized when she put them together a certain way they made a cross. She identified the cross with Jesus, and continued to care for the sticks the entire weekend. How sweet! She then took the sticks and held them up to the little boy from another campsite as if he was a vampire which was kind of freaky, and as my wife and I watched horrified not knowing what she was going to do next. Then she asked the boy “Do you know Jesus?” What!? My five year old little girl is making crosses and asking strange boys if they know Jesus!? Parenting win! Michelle and I high-five each other like we just won some parenting trophy, right? But then the boy responds “Yes, of course I know Jesus! He died on the cross to forgive our sins and rose again after three days!.” – and my mouth dropped open. Are you kidding me!? What is happening here? Then the boy’s YOUNGER sister comes over and asks Gigi, “Do you want to come to church with us tomorrow?” At this point I’m in disbelief. These kids, who randomly just met at a campsite are now exchanging knowledge of Jesus Christ and inviting each other to church! So I did what any Dad could do in that situation, added their Dad on Facebook. Haha. I think I complimented him 10 times during our conversation, and asked for our kids to hang out more often. Those are the kids I want MY kid being around. As I talked to my pastor about it he said “isn’t it sad that kind of interaction shocks us?”. That’s so true.
I think most of us would say in our everyday lives we would never want to emulate a child, I mean my daughter could never rule over my career, nor would I ever want to put her in charge of my finances- she just doesn’t understand those aspects of my life. And yet it’s funny because in the most important area of our lives, our eternity, scripture says the ONLY way to experience the things of God is if we approach Him with the innocence and simplicity of a child-like faith. That’s what I had an opportunity to experience this weekend and what I want to talk about today.
I’m starting in the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 10. Essentially these kids see Jesus and they’re pushing their way to Him when the disciples see them and are blocking them from getting to the Messiah. Jesus said this: “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” A child simply believes and knows, and in the case of this weekend they know that my God forgives me. He forgives my sins, and He gave His only Son to die on the cross to do it. A kid told me that.
Why is it so hard for us adults to discuss our faith with other adults? When was the last time you walked up to someone you just met and said “Hi, do you know Jesus?”, I know that sounds a little clunky for our sophisticated communication skills, but yeah, it’s really that simple. And if you can’t bring yourself to talk about Jesus, how about making it one step easier, “Would you like to come to church with me?” As friends? As friends?? Because we just met each other but I want you to come with me. Because we just spent 10 minutes riding our scooters and barely talking but I want you beside me when I go to worship Jesus! Because I know nothing about you but I want you to experience what I experience when I call on my Heavenly Father. Have you ever done that? “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Sometimes receiving it and offering it look the same.
You know what else I noticed about the kid’s discussion? There was absolutely no shame. None at all. They said it, they believe it to be the truth, and they talked loud enough for the whole campsite to hear. They talked about it with such confidence that anyone listening would be foolish to challenge their words. The words you say are so powerful. The words that come out of your mouth have the power to create or destroy. These kids were creating life in Christ Jesus and speaking it across the campsite with reckless abandon. Adults don’t do that. We whisper it because we don’t want to offend someone, we hide it when we’re at work because we fear it won’t be accepted, and we keep it off our social media accounts because it’s more pleasurable to spread jealousy, hate, and lies than the Truth, the Way, and the Life.
Lastly, the kid’s religious beliefs were not a hinge upon which their feelings of love swiveled. Let me say it another way, regardless of how that conversation developed at the end, the result was more playing. We love because Jesus loved first. Have a different religious view? I love you. I don’t always agree, and I don’t have to, but because Jesus loved me, I have no other response than to love you too. Different political views? I love you. Different financial status? Different race? Different sexual orientation? I love you. I love you. I love YOU. Because Jesus first loved me, I love you. And listen, I won’t always agree it’s right, but at the end of the day I will always default to love. At the end of their conversation, the result was the same, love.
How are you choosing to handle your faith today? Like an adult who has been jaded and hurt, or like a child full of love and wonder? Do you believe Jesus is the Truth? Are you ashamed to talk about Him? And if you encounter someone who doesn’t agree with your faith, are you going to shout them down and destroy them on social media, or will you choose to pray for them out of love and compassion?
“I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” This is me giving you permission to act like a child today, in faith and in spirit. And if you’re the parents of the kids I’m writing about, you deserve a pat on the back because that just doesn’t happen naturally, there’s teaching going on at home. You deserve to celebrate that parenting win. We don’t always get many of them.